LESSONS FROM A “WASTED” DAY
Sometimes there’s a lesson where you least expect it. At least that’s the way it usually works with me. A couple of years ago I had the privilege of traveling to Florida, Texas and Tennessee to assist some friends who were promoting a 3 date concert tour with some well-known Christian musical artists. It was a very busy 4 days, setting up for these events in 3 different cities in 3 different states. The concerts were incredible, blessing all those in attendance. When the final concert closed we were all tired but happy with the results. God had visited those venues and people left encouraged.
It was on my attempt to travel home that the lessons came. American Airlines called late Sunday night to inform me that my flight scheduled for early the next morning had been cancelled due to the violent thunderstorms and tornadoes in the Midwest. I didn’t appreciate the gravity of those issues until I saw the pictures early the next morning of the devastation that had hit Joplin, MO. Huge parts of the city had been basically flattened!
That phone call from American Airlines started a string of events that could have only been orchestrated by God. I was in Chattanooga at the time so getting out of town was going to be a problem. The earliest they could get me on a flight out of Chattanooga was late Wednesday night, so we tried larger cities within reasonable driving distance (Atlanta, Knoxville, Nashville). I was finally able to book the last seat on a Tuesday afternoon flight out of Nashville. It meant renting a car and driving the 150 miles, finding a hotel, and a delay of almost 36 hours. Under the circumstances it appeared to be the best option.
Monday, therefore, became somewhat of a “waste” day. I had to check out of the hotel in Chattanooga before noon, so I grabbed a cab and went to the airport to rent a car. Picking up another young man in our traveling party, whose flight had also been cancelled, we proceeded to find a way to fill the day. Our first stop was Tennessee Temple University, a small Baptist school located in Chattanooga. This young man’s father and aunt had attended this school years before. The school has fallen on hard times, but he was still able to see the chapel where his aunt was married and the auditorium where his dad’s quartet had sung during college. Though he had never been there before, he felt very connected to the things we saw there, taking photos and retelling stories he had heard since his early childhood.
From there we headed toward downtown Chattanooga. Along the way we came across the famous Chattanooga Choo-Choo. A quick detour through the hotel and grounds there was like a walk through time for me. I grew up hearing my dad’s favorite band, the Glenn Miller orchestra, playing the song that made the “Choo Choo” famous. Dad was also a HUGE train buff, so walking through the old train station turned into a hotel lobby, and seeing the historic trains displayed on the grounds, was incredibly nostalgic for me. Somehow I couldn’t help but think my dad was taking in the sights with me!
As we headed out of town on our way to Nashville we saw a sign for “Lookout Mountain”. I had always heard the stories of “Lookout Mountain” and “Signal Mountain”, so we couldn’t resist a quick side trip to the summit. Evidently the Native American Indians that originally inhabited this area used to post guards on one side of the valley on top of Signal Mountain, and others across the valley on top of Lookout Mountain. From their vantage points they could see the entire valley below. They would send smoke signals to their compatriots on the other mountain if they spotted intruders. It was a pretty spectacular view so I would imagine more than one Indian guard got distracted by sights when he should have been focusing on his duty.
Having led 3 Promise Keeper conferences in Nashville since 2003, I made arrangements to meet a very special friend for dinner that night when we got into town. Though it had been 3 years since we’d seen each other, it was as if we hadn’t missed a heartbeat. We laughed, we shared stories, and we enjoyed the fellowship around the table. It was one of the highlights of the trip for me.
I headed to the airport the next morning at 4 AM….just in time to see God put on a spectacular display in the form of a lightning storm. There were 7-8 bolts of lightning crackling all around the area at the same time for at least an hour. It was an amazing sight. Though it jeopardized my flight later that day, it was something to behold.
Fortunately, I finally did get home Tuesday night, but not without a few more delays in Dallas. It had been quite the adventure and one that I almost ran right past before I got to thinking. I had been disappointed that I couldn’t come home Monday AM as planned. My plans got dramatically changed by circumstances I had no control over. While I didn’t get angry, I was stressed because I had things to do and needed to get home. But God had other plans in mind! He allowed my traveling partner and myself to both connect with a very personal place right there in Chattanooga……a place we would have never seen if we kept our original plans. He took us to the top of the mountain to gain a whole new perspective of the valley where Chattanooga sits, and gave us view that became the backdrop for some unforgettable pictures. He allowed me to unexpectedly spend some quality time with a friend that is as close to me as a brother. And to top all that off, He put on quite the show for me on Tuesday morning, and still got me home where I belong! All in all, my “wasted day” became a “day to remember”.
Isn’t that how God often works? He takes us down side-streets, detours, and unforeseen circumstances to allow us to experience more of what He has to offer us. We certainly don’t always like the change in our plans, but as we look back, we usually find out that it was all for the best. And often we realize when He gives us that view from on top of the mountain we wouldn’t have had any other way, things look a lot different.
While I’m not suggesting you drop all your plans to follow some whim, I am saying that you shouldn’t be that surprised when God changes your plans. He usually has something much better in mind than you have….you just have to figuratively “get in the car and drive”. I don’t know where He’s taking you, but I guarantee you He will lead the way. And when you get the chance to sit back and consider all that has happened I can’t help but think you’ll find a whole new perspective. I think God likes doing stuff like that!
Enjoy the view,